Ukrainians, including most Russian speakers, want to keep their country united with its current borders intact but there are concerns about the government. While few Ukrainians have confidence in President Vladimir Putin of Russia, his reputation has grown considerably at home, with more than 80 percent of Russians trusting his handling of world affairs.
These are some of the results of two polls conducted by the Pew Research Center last month, after the annexation of Crimea but before recent violence in several Ukrainian cities.
Ukrainians have also become more distrustful of Russia in general. Two-thirds of Ukrainians say that Russia is a bad influence on their country. In 2009, only a quarter considered its impact as a negative. The evaluation of the United States improved slightly over the same period, while the European Union was seen as about the same. Yet while Russian speakers in Ukraine are divided over the influence of Russia, they are much more negative about both the United States and the European Union.
Although few in the international community acknowledge the validity of Crimea’s secession from Ukraine, Russians overwhelmingly say the government in Kiev should recognize the referendum results and allow Crimea to join Russia.
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As Russians feel more positive about their country and their military, they have increasingly negative views of the United States and the European Union. Only 23 percent have a favorable opinion of the United States, down from 51 percent last year. For the European Union, 39 percent of Russians have a favorable opinion, down from 63 percent last year. In addition, tensions have caused Russian views of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Barack Obama to deteriorate, although the Ukrainian image of those leaders has stayed fairly steady over the past few years.
In-person interviews were conducted in April with 1,000 Russian adults and 1,659 Ukrainian adults. The margin of error for the Ukraine poll is 3 percentage points; it is 4 percentage points for the Russian poll.